An attempt to increase the percentage of affordable homes that will be built at the Waterfront and South Hill has been voted down by States Members.
Former Housing Minister Senator Sam Mézec first called on the States Assembly to double the current 15% minimum to 30%, and he later amended his own proposal to push the bar even higher, to 50%.
However, both efforts were rejected by politicians.
On Thursday, the ‘half the homes as affordable’ proposal failed by 28 votes to 18 and, on Friday, the 30% threshold was also rejected, by 27 votes to 20.
Senator Mézec argued that it was the responsibility of the taxpayer-owned States of Jersey Development Company, which is behind the Waterfront and South Hill projects, to maximise the number of shared-equity homes to help address the current housing crisis.
Pictured: The States of Jersey Development Company is developing the former Planning Offices on South Hill.
He questioned, if a publicly-owned company building on publicly owned land can’t build houses for those most in need, then who can?
However, Environment Minister John Young was the only frontbencher who supported his former ministerial colleague.
Those opposed said that the prime position of the sites meant that it was more sensible to maximise income there, which could then be used to build far more affordable houses elsewhere, such as St. Saviour’s Hospital and the former Les Quennevais School.
They also argued that, in addition to the 'at-least-15%-for-affordable-homes threshold', more homes at the Waterfront and South Hill would be ringfenced for first-time-buyers and islanders who were ‘right-sizing’ by moving into smaller properties.
Assistant Treasury Minister Lindsay Ash, who is the politician with responsibility for SoJDC, was one of a number of politicians who referred to an independent assessment of the projects, which concluded that they would be unviable if more than 15% was designated as affordable.
The revenue generated would also be reinvested in public facilities which all islanders could enjoy, he said.
However, Senator Mézec disputed that the projects would become unviable, arguing that the authors of the assessment had other benchmarks to the ones chosen could have been set.
He added that another report which had assessed the island’s housing need was out of date and had understated the demand for affordable homes while overstating the need for open-market housing.
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